Stuck in the Middle with You- I Samuel 29

I Samuel 29
Life is so busy.
So I have been stuck.
I know that it is incredibly important that anything I put out there on the world wide web about scripture not be done in haste. For that reason, it has been a while since I have devo-blogged. (totally not a word)
Apparently,  I have taken “meditating on a portion of scripture” to the next level as I have been “stuck” on I Samuel 29 for quite some time now.
But isn’t God funny?
Why? You ask. Well, Read I Samuel 29and get back to me.
Ok, did you? Well, I will have to take your word for it. In I Samuel 28, David made a really crazy decision. Because he was afraid of Saul, he ran to the Philistines for safety. Yeah. The same Philistines that lost a mighty giant. The same Philistines that pretty much hated Israel. David ran there because his destiny was scary and uncertain. And now he was stuck. David’s decision to run to a known enemy, because of an unknown fear, made no sense. But we all do it. We run to whatever brings us comfort. It could be as devastating as drugs or as mind numbing as television, but we run to something, anything when we have a fear of the future. Jonah did the same thing. Nineveh was a terrifying place to go. Instead Jonah decided he was going to head in the opposite direction. But God had a plan. And ready or not, Jonah’s time was now. Same with David. David needed a little motivation to move because he had grown comfortable in this place of hiding out. In chapter 29 David is ready to go so far as to fight with the Philistines …against Israel because he has totally forgotten the call on his life. Consequently, it takes one of the Philistines to call him out and tell him he is out of place. He doesn’t belong there. And he has to move on.
Moving on is scary. I know this because we are doing it. It would be comfortable for my husband to keep his job as a mechanic. For the last year and a half he has been working part-time at church, and full time at Audi. (that’s too many “times”, for those of you keeping track) and it could not go on like this forever. Being spread too thin, Paul knew it was time to change. But the question remained, which way? He was either going to go back to full time at Audi only, or switch to full time at the church.
Here’s the thing. 
I know Audi. It’s not perfect, but it’s familiar.  Paul has done well there, and had opportunities to move up. The reality is that we have a lot of ballerinas, and swimmers, and they eat a lot! Audi is comfortable. Audi makes sense.
But God gave Paul a dream many years ago. And it wasn’t to be a mechanic. That was his waiting place. Deep in his heart was a desire, given by God, to be a pastor. He has a pastor’s heart. He loves. He forgives. He is unwavering in preaching God’s truth and has done it wherever God has placed him.
Two weeks ago a choice had to be made. Paul was offered a full time position at our church.  Thankfully, through it all, God has been so faithful to show us time and again through His word, through His people, and through His Holy Spirit the way that we should go. 
Isaiah 30:21 tells us that we will hear a word saying “this is the way, walk in it.” 
We had heard that word. And we knew it.
The timeliness of this chapter in Samuel blows me away because it reiterates two basic and timely truths:
God’s watches over His Word to perform it. Jeremiah 1:12
A man plans his way but the Lord directs his path. Proverbs 16:9
More prevalent than a fear of the unknown is the fear of choosing the wrong path. Therefore it is with great comfort I read this passage. God is in control, and He was directing David’s path.

God is in control,and He is directing our path.

I have been “stuck” on I Samuel 29 which is about David being “stuck” with the Philistines. If you have been studying these chapters in Samuel with me you know this isn’t the first time these words, inspired by God, thousands of years ago have been so perfectly timed for my life and yours too. Some of you have told me. And now I rejoice to watch David moving forward, ready or not, trusting God to fulfill his calling. It is also with great excitement and anticipation that we follow the Lord  out of this waiting place trusting Him to continue to lead and direct us through the unknown. And it is with great love and humility that we ask for lots of prayer from you!
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I’ve never…..

I recently found out that this was a “drinking” game. Funnily enough, the first time I played it was at a women’s Bible study, except you earned toothpicks instead of chugging alcohol. Let’s say I start off the game with a statement “I’ve never broken a bone.” Anyone playing who HAS broken a bone before must give me a toothpick. Then the next person gives their “I’ve never _________.” statement and anyone who has ever _________ will give that person a toothpick and so on and so forth until one person holds all the toothpicks. Technically that person is the winner, but winning isn’t the point of the game. It’s about having a hilarious time getting to know all your friends’ dirty little secrets.

Recently I came up with a twist on the game. It doesn’t involve toothpicks, yet it is more scandalous than drinking. Instead of giving someone a toothpick, you give someone……dun dun dun duunnnnn…. MERCY!!! And instead of doing this when someone declares what they *haven’t*  done, you give it when there is something that they *have* done.

Let me explain.

Scenario #1

Someone cuts you off in traffic. Your blood starts to boil. You may even consider cutting them off. But wait….it’s time for a rousing game of “I’ve never!” Here’s what you do. Think carefully. Can you say….I have never cut someone off. Ever. Or made any driving infractions. No Mistakes. Never taken a wrong turn. Never Fallen victim to a blind spot. You have? Okay here’s how you play.  At that point, forget about drinking or toothpicks. Pull out a large helping of mercy and give it out.

Scenario #2
 You try calling your spouse/friend/cousin/daughter/sister/neighbor. And they don’t pick up the phone. In fact, they NEVER pick up the phone. UGH!!! Especially when you need them. Like NOW! Pick up. Pick up. Pick up. No. Nothing. So annoying!! Wait……right when you feel that temper tantrum kicking in (yes, that’s what I called it) it’s time to play “I’ve never_________”  “I have never been unreachable when someone tried to call me. Ever. Never left my phone home. Never left the house without the charger. Never been on a call and not clicked over. Never been in the bathroom when the phone beckoned. Never not once.” Nope. Not likely.  Okay, pull out some mercy. And give it up.

Scenario #3
You get an email. And immediately you “hear” the persons tone. They are so rude! How could they “talk” to you like that! So disrespectful. But wait. Before you get ready to blast them back an email, or share this one with all of your friends….it’s time to play….”I’ve never!” Have you never had someone misunderstand your written word? Or taken something you emailed the wrong way? Because that has definitely happened to me. You see, I am a pretty straightforward person. I have to really try to add a “Bless your heart” here or there in emails, because I have learned that my “Get to the point” nature can come across as rude in writing. So much so that I was once kicked out of a Freecycle group (I kid you not) because of my “tone” in an email. If you are not familiar with Freecycle, it is a group where you can give away items, and even ask for items. Their one basic rule is that you can’t “ask” for an item until you have given something away. After giving a ton of items away, I decided to test the waters and post a “wanted” ad.  The powers that be refused to post it because they said I had never given anything away. “That’s easy,” I thought, and I quickly emailed them all of the “evidence” I had of the items I had given away. They then accused me of “only giving away items so that I could get items.” Lord have mercy. These people are crazy. I tried to resolve it quickly though and just got to the point. I emailed quotes from their rules that showed I hadn’t broken protocol. Next thing I knew I was kicked out. When I asked why, they wrote that my “tone” was aggressive.  I read and reread these emails, even had my husband read them and we could not figure out what “aggressive tone” they were talking about. So yeah. I guarantee that your intentions for an email have been misunderstood. You just may not know about it.  Knowing this little tidbit from my life however, before you assign “tone” to an email, it’s time to give it up. Mercy.

Scenario #4
 You hear of how someone has been wronged. You hear all the sordid “details.” You are furious. How could that person do that to them? Don’t they know that such and such is wrong! Just plain wrong. That’s it. You are never talking to them again, and you are going to make sure everyone knows what a jerk they are for behaving so ungodly. But wait! This is the perfect time for “I’ve never!” It is amazing to me how popular the saying “There are two sides to every story” is, yet how quickly people are to dismiss this reality. And like wildfire rumors are spread. Assumptions are formed. Character maligned. All because we latch on to one side of the story. I used to be the first one in line to do this. Until, that is, God put me with a man who never did. I would tell him these atrocious stories that should have evoked the same outrage in him that I was feeling, and he would be slow to jump on board. He knew there was likely another side to the story. That attitude used to frustrate me to no end. Mercy. How could he extend mercy to someone so clearly in the wrong?  Until it was me to whom he was extending mercy. Then I got it. It took me too many years, but I finally got it.

What is my point? We live in a world, where people get incredibly bent out of shape over the smallest offenses. And not only are these infractions not worth the anger they provoke, but they are also sins that we commit ourselves, regularly. Thoughtlessness, selfishness, pride, carelessness, laziness, distractability, forgetfulness. No one is immune to this list. And when we are the offenders? We want Mercy. We expect Mercy.

Ok fine. Not you. You don’t do those things, or at least not as bad as that other person. But let us remember the enormous debt that we all have accrued, illustrated best in the story of the unmerciful servant in Matthew 18:21-35. We have all received an immeasurable amount of mercy. And to those who have been forgiven much, we must love much. This truth is emphasized beautifully in James 2:13

For judgment is without mercy to the one who hasn’t shown mercy.
 Mercy triumphs over judgment.
I dare you to play the game tomorrow. I guarantee you will have an opportunity! Comment here if you do! I would love to hear about it. I am sure I will have a chance also, and I pray that God would flood our minds and hearts with His mercy, and that we would faithfully extend it to others!